Posted by Tiffany Cooper
There is something therapeutic about sitting in a comfy chair with buttery popcorn, an ice cold drink, and a side of candy while losing yourself in a movie. The greatest plots are wrought with adversity that is miraculously and conveniently overcome in 120 minutes. If only it was that easy, however, real life doesn’t provide carefully crafted scenarios with contrived dialogue and ever-present mood music. Real life is unedited. Real life is messy.
I vividly remember the first time I felt the sharp sting of betrayal; pain would flood my heart in waves. On another occasion I experienced deep disappointment that left me asking many questions that could not be answered. It didn’t take me long to realize that adversity is an unavoidable part of life because we live in a fallen world inhabited by imperfect people. Ministry doesn’t make us immune to difficulties, challenges, or pain. Actually, ministry places us smack dab in the middle of life’s rollercoaster.
The moment I embraced adversity was the moment I no longer gave control to its’ potentially weakening power. Instead, I chose to use it to make me stronger. There is great triumph when, even in the midst of suffering, we allow God to do a great work in our lives. I truly believe that embracing the “plot twists” in life allowed me to effectively lead through adversity. There is great wisdom about leading through adversity in 1 Peter 5.
We lead by example. (vv. 1-3)
Leading by example is the most powerful tool we have when guiding others through adversity. Our dependence on God, our actions, and our words show others how to respond. Leading through adversity is not about me, it’s about shepherding the people that God has entrusted to my life. As women in ministry, we’re called to feed, protect, guide, nurture and care for our flock.
Be humble and seek Godly counsel. (vv. 5-6)
We are not all-knowing. We do not have all the answers. In fact, we don’t know what we don’t know. We gain great wisdom from Godly mentors who speak into our lives. Prayerfully consider the advice you’ve been given, line it up with scripture, and allow the Holy Spirit to direct your steps.
Cast your cares on God. (v. 7)
Casting our cares is a deliberate act that is vitally important if we’re going to effectively lead others. Charles Spurgeon used the illustration of a man who came to move your furniture, but he carried a huge and heavy backpack of his own. He complains that he finds it difficult to do the job of moving your furniture; would you not suggest that he would find it easier if he laid his own burden aside so that he could carry yours? In the same way, we cannot effectively do God’s work when we are weighed down by our own burdens and worries. Cast them upon Him, and then take up the Lord’s burden – which is light burden, and a yoke that fits us perfectly.
Resist the Enemy (vv. 8-9)
Satan wants to destroy us. We must be aware and resist his attempts. Resist the feeling that God has left us in the midst of our adversity. Resist the urge to retaliate against those who have hurt us and to “give our side of the story” to whoever will listen, this momentary release will discredit our integrity. Resist the urge to overlook our own weaknesses. Nobody is perfect. We are imperfect people who are in the process of being perfected. Resist the urge to give more power to our problems than to our victories.
God will make us strong. (vv. 9-10)
My heart leaps when I read about God restoring our strength after we have suffered a little while.
God will give us strength to lead through pain, strength to stand alone, strength to bless those who persecute us, strength to reflect Godliness and strength to defeat the enemy and finish our race.
If you are experiencing adversity today, I encourage you to embrace the beauty that can come from its’ ashes. Shift your focus, take its’ power, and use it for good. Remember, God uses adversity to perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle us. He may not complete his work in 120 minutes with special effects but he is faithful to his promises. May the God of all grace perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you today!
When adversity comes along your your path, do you run for cover or meet it head on? What steps do you need to take today to cast your cares on your Heavenly Father? Spend some time today reflecting on the difficult times you’ve faced and how God has used it for good.